The European Union will stop funding the Freedom Protection Council, the Prime Minister’s Office said on Tuesday. The move marked an important achievement for Israel in its effort to reduce the scope of foreign-funded NGOs intervening in the country’s internal affairs.
The Freedom Protection Council, which was founded last year by Ilam – the Arab Center for Media Freedom Development and Research – consists of some 20 Jewish and Arab NGOs, including B’Tselem, Adalah, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and the Mossawa Center.
The move was spearheaded by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who instructed the Foreign Ministry to ask the EU to stop supporting the NGO. The EU recently told the Prime Minister’s Office it would comply with the request and stop funding the group.
Israeli officials expressed satisfaction over the decision and said the Europeans understood they had crossed a line.
Although the Freedom Protection Council isn’t a household name in Israel, it had set a precedent in the country because it was conceived, established and operated by official European representatives, with the express aim of combating the positions espoused by the “nationalistic-messianic” Israeli Right.
As stated, Israeli officials believe the NGO’s activities represent a blatant intervention in the country’s internal matters.
In 2016, the European Union, via the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument, provided the Israeli NGO I’lam Arab Center for Media Freedom Development and Research a total of 365,803 euros for “The Creation of the Freedom Protection Council: Ensuring Democratic Space for Civil Society Organisations in Israel,” the watchdog NGO Monitor reported this week.
According to the PMO, the Freedom Protection Council undermines Israel’s right to exist and works to defame it across the globe.
“This is just the beginning,” Neyanyahu said in a statement. “We will continue to act with determination against organizations that work to delegitimize the State of Israel and seek to defame it and the Israel Defense Forces internationally.”
On Sunday, Netanyahu rebuked Norwegian Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Soreide, accusing Norway of overtly funding anti-Israel activity.